Griffith Business School and the Yunus Social Business Centre have welcomed four new Social Entrepreneurs in Residence as part of its ‘Executive-in-residence’ program to develop its ongoing offerings for 2019.
Ms Anna Guenther, Mr Tom Allen, Mr Tony Sharp and Ms Emma-Kate Rose make up the pilot cohort of social entrepreneurs who started with the University in June, leading a six-month program focused on sector development.
“Supporting innovation is a key part of Yunus Centre strategy, so we’re delighted to have launched the ‘Social Entrepreneurs in Residence’ program with four exceptional people,” Yunus Centre Director Mr Alex Hannant said.
“During their time with Griffith, each of the Entrepreneurs will be working on a project that will contribute to the social business ecosystem, and we’re really excited to see what we can create together.
“The Social Entrepreneurs in Residence will also be available to support students and share their insights and expertise with the Griffith Community.”
Each of the entrepreneurs brings a unique skill set to Griffith, grown through their individual experiences in the social enterprise space.
Ms Guenther is the co-founder of PledgeMe, New Zealand’s first crowdfunding platform, which launched six years ago and has since seen more than 1200 campaigns raise more than $26 million through its service.
As founder and chief executive of social enterprise Impact Boom, Mr Allen brings to the program a great deal of experience working with entrepreneurs to help them realise their full potential.
“It was an honour to be invited to participate and shows a strong commitment from Griffith to help build and develop the local social enterprise ecosystem,” he said of his involvement in the program.
“I’m really enthusiastic about collaborating with the other SEiRs, all who have shown that they go beyond talking and are actively involved in creating positive social change.”
Joining them, Mr Sharp is a stalwart of the local community and the founder of Logan-based organisation Substation33, providing meaningful work and skills development for volunteers and employees alike.
Meanwhile, Ms Rose possesses considerable academic nous — she has skills spanning across the research, lecturing, management and enterprise development fields — and currently serves as the General Happiness Manager of Food Connect.
She says that, upon being invited to join the program by Mr Hannant, she “immediately said yes”.
“It’s not often a world-weary, middle-aged female social entrepreneur gets an opportunity like this!” Ms Rose said.
“The small team at the Yunus Centre have been incredibly supportive and Alex is a brilliant leader. My three co-conspirators are amazing human beings and I feel incredibly humbled to be in their company.”
During their residency, the four distinguished businesspeople will engage in activities such as sharing knowledge, expertise and experience; providing insight on, and contribution to, research, teaching, curriculum development and other GBS activities; promoting collaboration in research, practice and community engagement; and fostering, supporting and accelerating new innovations in the field of social enterprise that result in positive societal impacts.
For example, Ms Rose says she would like “to document the process for equity crowdfunding for the purchase of our building so that other social enterprises can learn from our experience” during the residency, as well as supporting her colleagues in achieving their goals.
Mr Allen echoes her sentiments: “One of my key goals is in helping to build and grow the Australian social enterprise ecosystem as well as providing the necessary support for people, startups and organisations which have an idea and are keen to turn that into positive social impact,” he said.
“Working with purpose-led businesses to help them grow, scale and tackle problems effectively is a passion, and I see a lot of momentum building in the space.”
Following the six-month pilot period, the Social Entrepreneurs in Residence program will be launched as an ongoing program from 2019, with the inaugural cohort helping to inform and design its implementation.
“This is a new program that the Yunus Centre will be running every year, ensuring that Griffith is connected with, and making a positive contribution to, Queensland’s fast-growing social enterprise sector,” Mr Hannant said.
“These connections will provide powerful and relevant inputs into social business learning and research at Griffith.”
For more information about the Yunus Social Business Centre and the Social Entrepreneurs in Residence program, see its website.